AWAF Fellowship Spotlight: Audrey Sato

Audrey Sato is a principal at Sato Architects, and a lecturer at Cal Poly Ponoma. She is a recipient of the 2017 Association for Women in Architecture Foundation Professional Development Fellowship. With this award, she has launched a podcast called XX|LA Architects Podcasts. The podcast features Los Angeles' leading women in architecture by discussing relevant issues in the profession.  The main goals of the podcast are to promote equity in the profession and create an easily consumable, portable resource for the community to connect, be inspired, and learn from each other. We sat down with Audrey to learn more about her experience with this fellowship and her podcast.How did you hear about the AWAF Fellowship?Audrey: I found out about the fellowship through a colleague. I actually didn’t think I was going to apply at first, but after looking at the application I came up with the idea of creating a podcast as a form of storytelling to fill in the gaps of information on women in architecture. I was inspired by the recent report called Equity by Design - I felt as though there was a lot of data, but not as much focus on the personal or anecdotal side of things. I realized that this would also be a great connection to AWA+D and their mission, and decided to apply.What drew you to the medium of podcasting?Audrey: I got into podcasts by listening to other’s storytelling. The medium of podcasting is so personal for the listener, yet easily consumed. There’s something very intimate about having your headphones in and listening to someone’s voice. It’s almost like you are in a different mode when you are listening to someone’s voice in that way. You can even listen while multi-tasking, which I why I thought it would be perfect for women architects that juggle a lot on a day to day basis. Many of us want to be involved and learn more, but may not be able to make it to a lecture hall at 6pm on a Thursday. That’s where I see the podcast stepping in.What resources and support does the fellowship provide?Audrey: Well, the obvious thing is funding! That really helped me get the podcast off the ground, and to get the equipment or editing software I needed to have really great sound quality. Besides that, having the backing of AWA+D is crucial for when I reach out to potential guests. It gives me credibility, and provides a strong network of women to draw from and support me.What is it like to start your own podcast?Audrey: It’s exciting, and it’s hard. [Laughs] I mean that it’s hard in that it was time-consuming. As someone who has not ever been a blogger and rarely shares on social media, it was a whole new arena for me to learn how to build a website, what an rss feed is, how to record with good sound quality, and how to edit audio. The technical aspects of this just involved putting in the time and effort, but it was well worth it. It made sure that what I was delivering through the fellowship was a good product and would reflect  well on AWA+D and the AWAF Fellowship.What have been some of the more rewarding parts of this process?Audrey: I feel inspired and excited after each interview, and it’s not just for five minutes or an hour, it’s for days. In editing the actual interview, I listen to it about four or fives times, and I never get bored. There’s a real joy that I get from knowing that I put something out there that hopefully other people can benefit from.In your interviews, do you just focus on practice, or do you take on a more holistic life view?Audrey: I definitely cover topics beyond the architectural office. Obviously I know that we are all interested in our practices and design work, but my goal is to show examples of a variety of women succeeding in a variety of ways in architecture. What fits for one person isn’t going to fit for another, and I’ve found that it can be challenging to find examples of someone who is doing something that you want to do yourself and fits with your grander goals for life. Having a wide range of experiences available to you is the goal of the podcast.What’s next for the podcast?Audrey: My initial goal is to release 12 episodes in my first year. The podcast will probably grow in ways I can’t foresee at the moment. I’m also interested in pursuing episodes based on certain topics - for example, I may do one episode solely based on mentorship, or look at representation of architects in the media and whether women are represented in that as well. I have also planned a round table, with colleagues that have all started their own businesses.Learn, hear, and read more about Audrey and the XX|LA Architects Podcast here.